I-R.A.S.C., wearable surveillance protection


I-R.A.S.C. is a device that protects against infrared surveillance cameras. It is in fact composed of an elastic wearable band equipped with special LEDs that emit infrared rays that are invisible to the naked eye because their frequency is between 780 and 1 mm. But the reception of the image on the surveillance cameras is amended and a ball of light replaces the face of the person framed. The device developed by the group U.R.A. / FILOART reacts to the spread of visual surveillance in all public and private spaces as the last bulwark against every potential crime. But there are other works that have used a similar approach: in a more ironic way, for example, the special umbrella “Umbrella CCD-Me-Not” part of the Sentient City Survival Kit by Mark Shepard has been designed with a similar mode of operating: the infrared LEDs in the canopy are visible in the form of whitish spot only to CCD surveillance cameras, masking the person under the umbrella with their signal. Although its symbolic value (an umbrella always protects from something unpleasant or harmful to the person) this object is not always a practical accessory. With an intent stated by the artists themselves, the I-R.A.S.C. was born to be actually used and it is easy to build even without specific technical skills. The technologies to be used against surveillance cameras are so different now, which brings into question their function as a “panacea” against lawlessness. And it is fascinating (but disturbing) thinking that devices based on even more transparent and “embedded” digital technologies move this exhausting struggle between security and privacy into the invisible world of the infrared.

Chiara Ciociola